Miami Insurance Agent Arrested for Stealing Premium Funds from a 70-Year-Old Client
Contact: Ashley Carr
MIAMI, Fla. – The Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud today announced the arrest of Miami Lakes insurance agent Patricia Dawn Fernandez for stealing insurance premium funds from an elderly 70-year-old client. In February 2013, while working as the agent in charge at a North Miami Beach insurance agency, Fernandez accepted a premium payment in full from the victim but kept the money and signed the individual up for a payment plan without his authorization.
The victim became aware of the theft when he contacted his insurer after receiving a cancellation notice for non-payment. The victim’s insurer, Citizens Property Insurance, informed him of the payment plan Fernandez had arranged and that payments had not been made. After the victim provided proof of payment, Citizens contacted the Division of Insurance Fraud to investigate. The Department’s Division of Agent and Agency Services, which licenses insurance agents in the state of Florida, also provided assistance in the investigation and is seeking to suspend Fernandez’s insurance agent license.
Fernandez faces up to 5 years in prison, if convicted. The case will be prosecuted by the office of Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Anyone with information about suspected insurance fraud is asked to call 1-800-378-0445. Citizens who provide tips can remain anonymous. The Department of Financial Services has awarded $365,000 to 63 citizens as part of its Anti-Fraud Reward Program. The program rewards individuals up to $25,000 for information that directly leads to an arrest and conviction in an insurance fraud scheme.
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Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, a statewide elected official, oversees the Department of Financial Services. CFO Atwater’s priorities include fighting financial fraud, abuse and waste in government, reducing government spending and regulatory burdens that chase away businesses, and providing transparency and accountability in spending. Follow the activities of the Department on Facebook (FLDFS) and Twitter (@FLDFS).